The Last Newspaper in the World
23 July 2014
7 DIANA MEETS ANGELIQUE
‘Bill, can you keep out of Stead’s way for just one day?’
I nodded to Glen but added: ‘Um, ah don’t you think this has gone as far as it can go?’
Harry pursed his lips. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, you know, now that we’re back in with the cops, why bother?’
More swearing, then ‘You’re the one who got us started on this. We can’t just stop now because you’re uncomfortable. We have a duty to continue our own lines for our readers.’
I heard Diana lightly chuckling beside me. I looked at Glen and he shrugged and gave me a ‘don’t ask bloody stupid questions’ look.
‘Right, Diana, I want you to go down to the police media briefing. You okay with that?’ I looked around at her and saw she wasn’t smiling but had narrowed her eyes.
‘Neil is there any more to be gained from the council background reports?’ Standing next to Diana, I realised how tall Neil was and how thin, his black trousers crunched around his waist by a too thin belt.
‘Well, what I’d like to do is interview the people who are mentioned in those reports, either making decisions or just being on the committees.’
Glen and Harry looked at each other and nodded.
‘Can you also see if you can find out anything about what’s happening with the racing club,’ Harry said.
‘What about me?’ I asked.
‘I see the Americans have developed a jet fighter that can’t be seen until it’s blasted your arse off,’ Harry said.
‘Yeah, the Stealth bomber.’
‘Beyond that even. That’s not you though, is it?’ Harry said, looking back at me.
I looked at Harry and thought how he knew very well I was the person who things happen to, good and bad.
‘Look,’ he said addressing us all, ‘these sorts of crimes are usually about sex, drugs and rock and roll.’
George had said this too but Glen said: ‘Harry, that’s a bit simplistic isn’t it?’
‘Yeah but you know what I mean. The rock and roll in this case, I think, we’ve got a slight glimmer of through the various meetings. Bill what I want you to do is find out the sex and drugs part and how it ties up to the rock and roll.’
I squeezed my eyes shut and nodded.
‘Ok, get out of here. I’ve got a newspaper to run.’
Sitting at my desk, trying to make a list. My hand was poised over a blank page. I could hear my computer humming as it looked after my stories and invited me to enter. I could see the beach stretching out in front of me, perfectly formed waves throwing themselves down. Just as I was about to rise and go for a surf, I saw Diana walk over to Glen. They looked at me and then Diana came over.
‘Hey, let’s go for a coffee and sort out what we’re going to do.’
As we left the office, I saw Neil talking to Christine in the sports section. Diana started to walk down the road when we got outside but I called to her, ‘hey let’s go over to the beach.’
The surf wasn’t quite as perfect as it had been in my mind’s eye but nice lines still rolled through. Gordon’s Tea Rooms was quite busy. Four or five people at tables pressed against the windows to make the most of the weak sunlight. Angelique greeted me with a smile, which she kept on as she looked at Diana.
‘Bonjour Bill – your usual?’
‘And your girlfriend? What do you want?’ she asked Diana.
‘Angelique, this is Diana, she works with me.’
‘Slim flat white for me please,’ Diana said, smiling politely, because that’s what she did.
‘Of course, we girls must watch our weight, so difficult.’
Diana paid and we sat down at one of the small side tables, against the wall.
‘Who is she?’ Diana said, looking at Angelique as she made our coffees.
‘A friend. What did you think of our visitors?’
‘Seemed a very reasonable request,’ Diana said, pulling herself back a bit from the table and running a hand over her hair. I knew she was annoyed with me for avoiding her interest in my friend.
‘Yeah but do you think Harry is right? We should continue with our own investigation?’
‘Of course, why do you ask?’ I looked at Angelique who was just finishing off our coffees and thought how I really loved her round face and the way her eyebrows curved fully over her eyes.
‘Bill,’ Diana said, gently waving long fingers in my face, ‘why do you ask?’
‘You know, aren’t the police handling this really? Won’t we just get in the way?’
‘I think that’s the point. No, just joking,’ Diana said smiling, then saying more seriously, ‘why, are you worried?’
‘As Harry would say, my very good friend Stead seems to be after me on this, so I am a bit worried where it’s going to end up, that’s all.’
Diana was quiet and looked at me evenly. ‘Where it’s going to end up is we are going to get the story of our lives.’
‘But doesn’t that just piss off the cops?’
Diana, for all her university degree and clean, classic look, just shrugged.
‘Coffee?’ It was Angelique. She put the cups down and put a hand on my shoulder, proprietarily brushing my hair lightly with a hand first. ‘Has he taken you to see Bernard yet?’ she asked Diana.
‘Bernard. Who’s that?’ Diana asked me.
‘Another friend. So should we go and see him now?’
Angelique gave me a gentle shove. ‘You should. He knows more than you think.’ I knew that too but I hated the thought of facing Bernie feeling as I did about Angelique. Still, if anybody could tell me about the ins and outs of this town, it’d be Bernie.
‘Sounds interesting,’ Diana said, ‘why don’t we go now? Thanks Angelique.’
‘Okay, just let me finish this first,’ I gestured towards my cup, laughing now as the tension was released.
A small group of seagulls rose from the strip of grass outside Gordon’s. Diana waved her arms in the air at them. ‘Oh, go away. I hate birds don’t you?’
‘Not really. Why don’t you like them?’
‘It’s those eyes and their little beaks.’
I was going to ask her if she’d ever poked a stick at a dead bird but decided against it. ‘I suppose they can be a bit scary but I’m kind of used to them.’
We got in the car. Diana slammed her door shut.
‘Careful,’ I said, ‘it’s not that old.’
I don’t think she was listening. As we started to drive down the beach road towards Bernie’s place, she pulled a make-up kit out of her bag and looked into the small passenger side mirror on the visor. I was always a bit surprised looking at a woman applying her make up in these conditions. Living the kind of life that Harry and I did, make-up was not too common around the place.
‘Watch the road, please,’ she said, and I noticed I was drifting slightly towards the sandhills.
‘We’re just going to see old Bernie. I don’t think he’d care.’
‘Well, a girl’s always got to look her best, as my mum says.’
I don’t know if she’d actually applied anything as the winter sunlight reflecting off the ocean gave her face its own lustre.
‘So how does your dad know Bernie?’
‘Harry? Oh, something to do with the war.’
‘Vietnam, Bernie was a hero, I think. Somebody rescued somebody else but I’m not sure of the full story.’
‘What about Angelique? Where does she fit in?’ Diana asked, looking out towards the sea. We were turning into Bernie’s place now, so I just said that was a good question.
‘Something to do with Vietnam but I’m not too sure.’
‘So she’s French but from Vietnam?’
‘Okay, let’s go and do this.’ The wheels crunch over what remained of shells scrattered on the driveway. I pulled up near the back of the house.
As we got out of the car, Diana continued. ‘It’s okay, I understand why you like her. She’s cute and exotic.’
‘And a good friend.’
‘Mais oui, let’s go and visit friend Bernard.’
The Last Newspaper in the World
By Mick Stone
Published by BMS Books
An imprint of Business Media Services Ltd
The Last Newspaper in the World
Copyright © 2012 Mick Stone
All rights reserved.
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